Follow Your Passion!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Tina Frisco sharing the rich and varied experiences of her multi-act life.

Here’s Tina!

tinafriscoThank you, Joanne, for hosting me on your Second Acts blog. I’m delighted and honored to be among so many talented artisans.

My ACT ONE began with knowing that I wanted to be a nurse at age five. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA, I attended parochial school for twelve years and academically pursued the fields of science and math. The nuns were excellent teachers, and by the time I graduated twelfth grade, I was well-prepared for further study in these areas.

Eager to leave the nest, I moved to New York to attend Nursing School. Back then, hospital-based schools were still in existence and proved to be far superior to college and university nursing programs. My class scored above all other programs in New York on our State Boards, including the Masters Programs. Needless to say, students and teachers alike were very pleased.

I worked as a nurse for many years in the areas of Med-Surg, Psychiatry, Hemodialysis, Family Planning, and Geriatrics. I’ve been a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON), and Director of Staff Development (DSD). Seeking a greater challenge, I applied to the California State Department of Health Services for the position of Health Facilities Evaluator Nurse. These are the folks who visit hospitals, clinics, and home health agencies to evaluate their performance in adhering to state and federal guidelines. Since this was a civil service position, the candidate process took almost a year to complete. But it was well worth it; I not only was hired, but also was their first choice. I worked in the field of nursing until my mid-forties.

Music is also an integral part of my life. I received my first guitar at age fourteen and began writing songs and music. I emulated folksingers such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Donovan, Tom Rush, and Gordon Lightfoot. Later on, Emmylou Harris, Cris Williamson, John Denver, and many others also became favorites. I performed publicly throughout high school and much of my adult life, both as a solo act and with others. I enjoy all genres of music, with the exception of some types of jazz.

In my early twenties, I became an animal rights activist. The practice of vivisection filled me with anger and disgust, especially since the poor creatures often were not given analgesics or anesthesia. Non-human animals are treated with little or no regard for their sentience, and I was compelled to advocate on their behalf. Ever since corporations assumed the larger part of the industry involving animal research as well as the care and raising of animals for food consumption, the emphasis is now placed on profits rather than concern for the quality of life. When great distance is placed between the steward and her/his charge, it becomes easy to objectify. Once I became aware of this, I began advocating for all beings and remain politically active to this day.

In my early thirties, I became apprenticed to a Medicine Woman. This catapulted me into the realm of spirit and solidly placed me on a spiritual path. Everything I now do derives from a depth within my heart, soul, and consciousness. Once consciousness is awakened, there’s no turning back. Many lessons are difficult and the path can be arduous at times, but the benefits reaped are priceless and enlightening.

In my mid-forties, I became quite ill with an immunologic disorder and was unable to continue working. Many years passed before the pain and fatigue lifted enough for me once again to become productive.

Plateau Cover 8 (2)My ACT TWO began after watching several doomsday documentaries regarding the supposed end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar on December 21, 2012. I knew from a place deep within me that the world was not going to end on this date, and I felt compelled to put forth a message of hope into the world. I published Plateau: Beyond the Trees, Beyond 2012 in July of that year. Its underlying message is that we must keep our hearts open and act from love instead of reacting from fear; we must practice gratitude and compassion within every moment and with every breath; and in so doing, we’ll help elevate the human species to a higher consciousness, facilitating both personal and global peace.

About Plateau: W’Hyani, a fifteen-year-old tribal female, lives on a sequestered plateau where her people have little or no contact with the outside world. Born strong and willful, she is the predestined Keeper of the Crystal Heart, the key to unlocking the thousands-year-old mystery of the Great Mosaic of Life. Ignorant of her role as well as the shard’s significance, she carries it in a pouch around her neck, hidden from view and kept secret as her mother instructed before she disappeared. When cosmic forces begin testing her, W’Hyani meets every challenge with firm resolve. But ultimately she comes face-to-face with herself in a battle that would shrink the will of the most intrepid warrior, unaware that the realization of her destiny will irrevocably impact all beings on earth and beyond. The Great Mosaic of Life holds a message of hope that would allow us to see and live beyond our perceived horizons.

gabbyandthequadsLast year I published my second book, Gabby and the Quads. When my niece had quadruplets, I was inspired to write a children’s book that was ethically as well as traditionally educational. For example, Gabby’s family includes two pit bulls. I explain that pit bulls are born gentle and become mean only when mistreated by humans.

About Gabby and the Quads: Gabby is an only child, and her parents are concerned about how she’ll receive four new babies into the family. They decide on a unique approach to introduce her to and help her accept this awesome experience.

I’m now writing another novel, in yet a different genre. I thought I would try my hand at writing in a genre that’s currently popular and selling well. Writing is an inherent part of who I am, and it sure would be nice to make a little money from it!

Aside from writing and music, I enjoy reading, dancing, arts and crafts, exploring nature, and getting lost in working crossword puzzles.

My advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act is the same as that which I give to aspiring authors: Follow your passion! It will lead you to your heart’s desire. And don’t be disheartened if you encounter obstacles. Give your mind a rest for a period of time. Take a walk. Listen to music. Visit with friends. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you return to your project. Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to gain the perspective and momentum needed to move forward. And whatever you do, don’t listen to critics unless their criticism is constructive. If it is, learn from it. If it isn’t, turn a deaf ear and continue on. Above all, listen to yourself! Your intuition is your best guide.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes, the essences of which are reflected in my life’s philosophy and, thus, my writing:

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“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts – hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief – love is stronger than death.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“You can also commit injustice by doing nothing.” ~Marcus Aurelius

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Take the breath of the new dawn and make it part of you. It will give you strength.” ~Hopi Nation

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ~ Rumi

Joanne, it has been a pleasure meeting you. Your generosity and support of artisans is much appreciated. I’m an optimist by nature and hope that gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and love will imbue the current tenor of our social fabric – and prevail.

Walk in beauty, my friends…

Buy Links

Plateau – Amazon | Smashwords | Spangaloo | iTunes | EBook Universe

Gabby and the QuadsAmazon | Create Space

Where to find Tina…

Website | FB Author Page | FB Book Page | Amazon | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Google+ | About Me | Authorsdb | The indiePENdents | Ask David | Google Books | Radio Interview | What Say You?

Joanne here!

Tina, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with all your creative endeavors.

10 Things I Do to Preserve My Mental Wellness

I’m happy to welcome life coach Catherine Simmons to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine is sharing her common sense approach to mental wellness.

Here’s Catherine!

1. Get enough sleep

2. Spend time with people who inspire me

3. Be true to my values

4. Be mindful

5. Think positive

6. Explore my spiritual side

7. Let go of guilt and trauma

8. Exercise

9. Eat well for who I am

10. Spend time with nature

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In 2002 I was diagnosed with a mental illness and since then I’ve been on a journey of discovery. I firmly believe in recovery and that mental illness is transient. My power of 10 are the things that make the most difference in my life to keep me mentally healthy, and I know instinctively that they work for others too. They’re not rocket science, in fact these few common sense things can make more difference that you can imagine.

One thing I’ve left out, though, is the key to the rest. That one thing is a belief in self-empowerment. Taking responsibility for your own life and your own decisions is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Don’t believe everything you are told. There is so much information available these days and we don’t even need to go to the library!!! It’s time we took the driver’s seat and demanded the very best quality of life we can possibly have…a change in perspective from victim of circumstance to Executive Director of our lives makes all the difference.

As Wayne Dyer said – when we change the way we look at things the things we look at change.

My purpose in life to give people hope and to support and guide them to live the lives they dream of, whatever that means to them.

To learn more about these ten things you can sign up on my website at http://happinessecret.com

Bio

catherinesimmonsCatherine has had a lifelong interest in biology and how the universe works. With a Master’s degree in molecular genetics, and over 15 years of experience in Biotech industry, she concluded that the person centered holistic view of medicine is the only real solution to healing dis-ease. Her own experience of mental illness has led her to become qualified as a practitioner in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping) and she is now studying for certification as Quantum Success Coach, where she harnesses universal laws to help people achieve their life goals. Her passion is coaching for mental wellness.

Where to find Catherine…

Facebook | Twitter

Spotlight on When Double Becomes Single

I am thrilled to spotlight Charmaine Gordon’s new release…

I wrote When Double Becomes Single because the story is very close to my heart. As a first time widow years ago, I had nowhere to turn. I dedicate this book to all widows and widowers to give them hope. Take one step and another to a new life. It’s all there. Just open your heart to find love.

whendoublebecomessingle

Blurb

Before that awful night, Sharon Michaels had never even driven herself at night… eaten at a table for one… or made plans on her own.

Alone after losing her husband – her rock– she’s left with a business to run, a great son and his wonderful wife and children – far away in Denmark, a bad son and his nasty wife, and two teenage grandchildren she barely knows.

Step by step, she finds her way into the world of singles and learns to Survive and Thrive!

Trailer

Excerpt

The touch of her husband’s lips on hers warmed Sharon Michaels all the way home from the hospital. Remembering his whispered I love you before she left released a cascade of tears. She groped in her bag for a tissue, found none and used the sleeve of her good winter coat as a blotter. Mac would fix Barry. Their favorite doctor always knew the magical potion to apply. Even when Fred, their difficult teenager now in his thirties, started using marijuana and refused to stop, Mac knew what to do. Tough Love was the prescription. No driver’s license and other privileges allowed until he straightened out. So Barry’s bad cough should be easy like the croup. Hmm. Fred still held a grudge against us. Get home and go to sleep.

Exhausted after hours visiting with her husband at Community Hospital in Suffern, New York, Sharon stripped and pulled on flannel pajamas. Too tired to shower, she brushed her teeth, washed her face and slipped under the comforter on this chilly night. The phone rang. She picked it up. Mac Bloom, the family doctor said something she couldn’t quite hear.

“Crisis? Is that what you said? What do you mean crisis? I left him at the hospital about an hour ago. We kissed and said I love you the way we’ve always done for thirty six years.”

Their doctor for many a long time sighed. She heard urgency and sadness in his voice. “Sharon, is anyone at home with you?

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Bio

Charmaine Gordon writes books about women who Survive and Thrive. Her motto is take one step and then another to leave your past behind and begin again. Six books and several short stories in three years, she’s always at work on the next story. The books include To Be Continued, Starting Over, Now What?, Reconstructing Charlie, Sin of Omission and The Catch, and her series of Mature Romances, The Beginning…Not the End, including the stand alone novellas, She Didn’t Say No and Farewell, Hello and her most recent series, River’s Edge Stories where the town motto is Kindness to Strangers.

“I didn’t realize at the time while working as an actor in NYC, I’d become a sponge soaking up dialogue, setting, and stage directions. I learned many tools of writing during the years watching directors like Mike Nichols and actors including Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, and Billy Crystal. And would you believe, I was Geraldine Ferraro’s stand-in leg model, my first job giving me entrée into all the Unions needed to work. When the sweet time ended, I began another career and creative juices flowed.”

Where to find Charmaine…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

My Writing Journey

12082747_sDuring my high school years, I dabbled in poetry while dreams of a writing career dangled before me. But I gave in to my practical Italian side and pursued degrees in mathematics and education. While teaching was a good career fit, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I would write a novel at some point in my life. All I needed was more time and more energy.

Be careful what you wish for…

Continue reading on Tracee Ford’s blog.

10 Life Lessons from Valley of Life

I’m happy to welcome Stella Chiu to the Power of 10 series.

Here’s Stella!

stellachiuThe life journey is composed of mountain tops and bottoms of valleys. During the last 12 years, I encountered some events that turned my world upside down. My husband wanted a divorce. I had made some financial mistakes in business and investments which caused huge financial problems. Being a Christian, I couldn’t make any sense out of it. Later, I was led by the Lord to the wilderness (Mesa, Arizona) in both physical and spiritual situations. This wilderness experience provided 10 important life lessons.

1. The hardships are mostly caused by us.

It may shock you to know that most trials and sufferings are created by you. You went into bankruptcy because you made the financial mistakes along the way. You have no need to blame God or other people. Only then can you can take responsibility and do something above your situation.

2. Get your identity firmly inside you.

All problems are temporary. The circumstances will improve. “Tough things won’t last, but tough people will.” You are the beloved child of God. You can trust the most powerful person in the universe (God as your Daddy), who loves you so much, will help you to get out of the mess. You will be able to overcome the fear with that faith.

3. Stay put.

It is not wise to rush His time table until all the training is complete. This training is called A Joseph Calling by Os Hillman.

God takes time to develop character. He could not afford to have a prideful 30-year-old Joseph managing the resources of an entire region of the world. God used 40 years to train Moses. God used 12 years to transform me from a so called Christian to a real Christ believer.

God has a storehouse of blessings that He has reserved for you and me. God has a specific timetable that He requires to accomplish His purposes in the life of the believer. Sometimes, that timetable seems excruciatingly cruel and painful; yet it is necessary.

The greater the mess, the bigger will be your promotions. Don’t look left, right, back, or front, but up.

When you are experiencing trials, you should not try to get secular counseling from people around you. Their suggestions cause more confusion than before. When you look backward, the only sure thing is regret. When you look ahead, there may not be promising views. The upward direction is where you can obtain the divine wisdom, revelation, or inspiration to get out of bondage.

4. Don’t ask the wrong question(s).

During your trials, you should not ask: “Why has this happened to me?” or “Where is my God?” These will lead nowhere. A better question: “Lord, I did make the mistakes. I am sorry. Show me your rescue plan for me.”

5. You are a spiritual being.

We are created in the image of God. In other words, we are spiritual beings. It is vital that you must have this notion in your hearts and thoughts.

God is spirit, whose communication tunnels are only open to spiritual beings. When you realize you area a spiritual beings, you can freely communicate with God, who is the ultimate rescuer for any situation.

6. A new way of meditation.

It is a good idea to commit the first hour of the day to meditation. The aim is not for calmness but to hear the very small voice of God inside you. In a locked room, you seat yourself in comfortable position without any music. You allow no distractions. Because you are spiritual beings, you can imagine your spirit flying out from your body to heaven. You can talk with Jesus, God, or the angels.

Revelation and inspiration may come in during this hour or later in the day. Bring pen and paper to jot down new ideas.

7. A new way of prayer.

What is prayer? Prayer is your conversation with God – just like your conversation with a friend. Prayer is not just for asking favors. You can tell God how you feel inside: your frustrations, adventures, happiness moments, as well as your appreciation. Prayer is also a two-way street. You need to learn to be silent in front of the mighty God so that He can pass on His ideas.

God wants you to connect with Him every minute of your daily life. Talk (pray) to Him every chance you get: standing in line, waiting for the bus, drinking your coffee, cooking, doing laundry, etc.

Many people believe prayer does not affect their lives because they don’t believe God will answer. Make the word “believe” as big as you can in your own life.

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8. The power of repentance and forgiveness.

To repent means you know your mistakes; you turn away from them and never repeat them. This ties in with the first point of this post. God’s hands can come down to help you.

Forgiveness is so important because un-forgiveness blocks anyone trying to access the blessings, revelation, and favor from the Lord. Thos point can be illustrated more clearly in Mark 11:25 – 26: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…If you do not forgive, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

The forgiveness process starts with forgiving yourself first. From that point, you can forgive others.

9. Power of your faith.

You must be careful about what you say daily. You frame your world by the words you speak. You can’t have what you want if you speak against what you want. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind (speak) on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:19

If you want to come out of the pit, you must speak positively about what you want to happen.

10. Power of praise and worship

If you understand the significance of praise and worship, you will do well in your life.

Praise means you are thanking God for granting your requests ahead of time. Will He do it for you? I have no doubt in my mind He will do it for you.

God flows to and from the universe looking for worshippers. He already has all the angels worshiping Him 24/7. Why is He still looking for human worshippers? Angels are created to worship Him. Human worship is not an automatic action. Worship from someone who is suffering is more dear because it goes against human nature. You can definitely out of the pit with praise and worship.

My final thoughts…

The disappointments in life can open doors to new opportunities that God has for YOU! – @Ibloom

“On this journey called life, we wish we would not meet the thorns but have all bed of roses and everything smooth without so much as a worry. Our Creator has other plans. Out of each test, there is a testimony and for every mess there is a message. It is also not so much that we go through difficulties in life, but our attitude that makes all the difference.” – @EMBYvonne

womanonbench

Bio

Stella Chiu runs http://www.stellachiu.com where she is passionate to use her experience to help people to achieve good life through the Kingdom within each of us. Her blog covers faith, health, prosperity, and life (parenting, family, relationship, empty nest, etc). If you want to have good life, sign up free updated, free gifts, and one-to-one consulting.

Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.

The Secret to Serenity

When I received this Zen parable in an email attachment, I couldn’t resist a smile. And I knew I had to share it.

Enjoy!

A harried Type A businessman went to a yogi, high on the top of a hill.

“They say you have the secret to serenity,” the businessman puffed, mopping at his brow. “I have high blood pressure, I am stressed beyond belief, and I am at the end of my rope. Teach me the secret.”

The yogi smiled beatifically (as yogis tend to do.) He then rummaged around and presented the man with a large bottle. Inside the bottle was a live duck, swimming placidly in the water trapped inside.

duckinbottle

“This will teach you,” the yogi said. “Get the duck out of the bottle, without breaking the bottle, or killing the duck.”

The businessman was baffled, but he’d faced tough challenges before. Swearing to have it solved in two weeks, he took the bottle and went about solving the problem.

In two weeks, he returned, looking more frazzled than before. “There has to be some trick,” he groused. “This is impossible. There has to be a cheat or something.”

The yogi simply smiled, then told him to come back in two weeks.

In another two weeks, the man looked half insane. His eyes were bulging, his clothes were unkempt, and he was furious. “I am going to smash this bottle and wring the duck’s neck if you don’t tell me how to get it out!”

The yogi simply smiled, and told him again: Come back in two weeks.

Another two weeks, and the man returned. This time, he was the picture of calm.

“I figured it out,” he said. “The secret to serenity. I finally got it.”

He then handed the intact bottle to the yogi, with the duck still swimming inside.

He grinned. “It’s not my bottle. And it’s not my duck.”

serenity

Writers Have to Write

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author Susan Coryell sharing a lifelong passion for writing and the long, winding road to publication.

Here’s Susan!

susancoryellWe writers know who we are; writers have to write. That about sums up my “Second Act” in life.

What happens when a full-time career/working mom knows she is a writer and feels the need to write with simply no way of making time to do so? I believe it was the late Erma Bombeck, a writer of humorous columns, who laughed at her own solution to the problem: “There is a lot of untapped time between midnight and five a.m.”

Not only was I an active working mother—I fancied myself the busiest mom in the East. Full-time public school teacher, department chair, soccer mom, Sunday school teacher, night-student in grad school, mother of three and wife of a small business owner (who worked 80-hour weeks)—to name a few of my titles. Oh, did I mention I was trying to write a novel?

Miraculously, I somehow completed what I now call my “Disney Novel.” The young adult mystery involved twin boys, one a pitcher and one a catcher, who telepathized their signals on the ball diamond. Though probably not publishable, the work proved to me that I could write a story consisting of 50,000 or more words—with a beginning, middle and end. You’d think I would have been satisfied, happy to prove myself and move on with life on Muppet Manor with my family. Right?

eaglebaitAlas, Doubleheader only whetted my appetite to write more, more, more. So, I began working on another young adult novel—this one an anti-bully book with a 14-year-old male protagonist. I worked only on my summers “off” from teaching—posting daily notices on my closed office door that suggested my kids should not disturb me unless they were “bleeding profusely.” It took three years to complete Eaglebait.

While sponsoring a middle school literary magazine at Columbia Press Scholastic awards (yes, I also was in charge of the lit mag at my school), I said to myself, “Hey, you’re in New York. Let’s try to find a literary agent.” Luck prevailed and on the second day at Columbia, I met a guy who knew about a great agency in Chicago for YA books . They took on Eaglebait, secured a contract with Harcourt, and my writing journey began to take shape. Or, so I thought.

Even though Eaglebait won some impressive awards, Harcourt pulled it after 14 months, with no explanation. And, though I had plenty of other writing ideas, I threw in the literary towel until retirement years later. It was just too difficult what with the children merging into teenager-hood.

But then…my Second Act!

Retirement to a lakeside cottage was a godsend for this writer. I mucked around for several years doing free-lance for a pittance and writing a lot of local press for nothing. Not that I was wasting my “talent,” but I longed to plunge into novel writing again. That’s where I am at my creative best. And so, I picked up on a mystery/Gothic idea I had contemplated some years back—adjusted the setting to fit my retirement locale—and I have never turned back. The Wild Rose Press published A Red, Red Rose in 2013 and the sequel, Beneath the Stones this past April of 2015. I am currently writing the third novel in the series—as yet unnamed. In between writing these cozy mystery/Southern gothics, I was able to update Eaglebait with cyber-bullying and publish it through Amazon in e-book format.

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If there is a moral to my story, I believe it would be: Since writers know who we are and writers have to write, we must never lose faith; the window for writing will open somehow, some way, some time. I found my muse in the loft of a lake house 20+ years after my novel debut—a Second Act, for sure.

My heartfelt thanks to Joanne for inviting me to guest on her awesome blog!

Bio

A career educator, Susan has taught students from 7th grade through college-level. She earned a BA degree in English from Carson-Newman College and a Masters from George Mason University. She is listed in several different volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching. Susan belongs to Author’s Guild, Virginia Writers, and Lake Writers. She loves to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences and workshops. Her young adult anti-bully novel EAGLEBAIT is in its third edition for print and e-book, updated with cyber-bullying. EAGLEBAIT won the NY Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age,” and the International Reading Association’s “Young Adult Choice.”

A RED, RED ROSE, first in a cozy mystery/Southern Gothic series, was nominated for a literary award with the Library of Virginia. BENEATH THE STONES, the sequel, was released in April of 2015.

The author has long been interested in concerns about culture and society in the South, where hard-felt, long-held feelings battle with modern ideas. The ghosts slipped in, to her surprise.

When not writing, Susan enjoys boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. She and her husband, Ned, love to travel, especially when any of their seven grandchildren are involved.

Where to find Susan…

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Joanne here!

Susan, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Good luck with all your literary endeavors.